LOS ANGELES - An asbestos plaintiff's disclaimer for any claims arising from conduct in a military or federal worksite precluded a boiler maker's removal of the case, but enough case law supports the move that sanctions are not warranted, a federal judge in California held March 31 (John Hukkanen, et al. v. Air and Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 17-2227, C.D. Calif.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal magistrate judge in California on April 3 ordered a property owner to withdraw a request to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to have a former owner conduct additional site investigation for contamination, finding that the request violated the terms of a settlement agreement with the parties (Northern California River Watch v. Fluor Corporation, No. 10-cv-05105-WHO, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50763).
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - A federal magistrate judge in New York on March 31 denied portions of motions for summary judgment filed by General Electric Co. (GE) and the state of New York, finding that issues of material fact exist as to whether GE intended to dispose of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-containing capacitors at a scrapyard to be considered an arranger of hazardous waste disposal under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (State of New York, et al. v. General Electric Company, No. 14-CV-747, N.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50026).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - While there is evidence that a man suffered from a lung ailment, that evidence does not support a conclusion that he suffered from asbestosis or that the ailment was occupationally related, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals held March 30 (Elizabeth Foster, widow of Virgil L. Foster v. West Virginia Office of Insurance Commissioner and Glassware Acquisition Inc., No. 16-0416, W.Va. Sup. App., 2017 W. Va. LEXIS 187).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A naval engineer's general testimony about the types of ships and occupation in question are too speculative to create genuine issues of material fact regarding asbestos exposure, a federal judge in Delaware held March 30 in adopting a magistrate judge's recommendations (Marguerite MacQueen v. Warren Pumps LLC, et al., No. 13-831, D. Del., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48476).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A former seaman's past asbestosis diagnosis, later rejected by other medical professionals, fails to support the conclusion that asbestos exposure in the U.S. Navy played a role in his death, a federal judge held March 30 (Mary Tomberlin v. David J. Shulkin, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, No. 15-2203, Vet. Clms., 2017 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 481).
NEWARK, N.J. - A federal judge in New Jersey on April 3 denied General Electric Co.'s (GE) motion to dismiss a lawsuit seeking cost recovery and contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act for contamination at a site sold to a developer in 2015, ruling that discovery is needed to find the definition of "environmental response activities" in the indemnity and settlement agreement (ISA) (BRG Harrison Lofts Urban Renewal LLC v. General Electric Company, No. 16-6577, D. N.J., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50265).
HAMMOND, Ind. - A federal judge in Indiana on March 31 approved a proposed settlement between the federal government, Illinois, Michigan and Indiana and United States Steel Corp. over violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA), but acknowledged comments from objectors to the agreement who sought a harsher civil penalty or an agreement that the company take on more environmental projects (United States of America, et al. v. United States Steel Corporation, No. 12-CV-304-PPS-APR, N.D. Ind., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47607).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - After a Florida jury awarded the husband of a woman who died from lung cancer related to cigarette smoking $3 million in compensatory damages on March 28, the attorneys for the widow and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. on April 3 came to a confidential settlement over punitive damages before the jury had a chance to deliberate (James Whitmire v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2015-CA-002337, Fla. 2nd Jud. Cir. Leon Co.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A federal magistrate judge in Pennsylvania on March 31 vacated a $4.24 million verdict handed down in favor of a group of residents against a hydraulic fracturing company they had accused of contaminating their groundwater. The judge ordered that a new trial be held if the parties are unable to reach a mutual settlement on the remaining claims in the lawsuit (Nolen Scott Ely v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, No. 09-2284, M.D. Pa.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49075).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A federal magistrate judge recommended March 30 that a Delaware court ignore precedent rejecting the bare metal defense and grant judgment in favor of turbine and valve manufacturers (In re: Asbestos Litigation, Ellen Jeanene Palmer, et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 14-1064, D. Del., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47243).
SAN FRANCISCO - An expert's testimony that his experience with ships "like" those in question is insufficient to overcome a shipbuilder's motion for summary judgment in an asbestos case, a California appeals panel held March 30 (Richard Johnson, et al. v. Moore Dry Dock, No. A146775, Calif. App., 1st Dist., 2017 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 2308).
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A federal judge in Michigan on March 31 remanded to state court a lawsuit brought against officials of the state of Michigan pertaining to the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., ruling that the defendants failed to meet the requirements necessary to remove the matter to federal court (Tamara Nappier v. Richard Snyder, et al., No. 16-636, W.D. Mich.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48768).
ROCK ISLAND, Ill. - A father and son who built a levee on their property to protect it from flooding were ordered by a federal judge in Illinois on March 28 to pay a $4,750 fine for violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) and ordered to obtain under a permit under Section 404 of the act for a portion of the levee (Quad Cities Waterkeeper Inc., et al. v. David G. Ballegeer, et al., No. 12-cv-4075-SLD-JEH, C.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45829).
AUSTIN, Texas - At some point not declaring acceptance of a settlement crosses the line into unreasonable, and asbestos plaintiffs' eight- and nine-year delay constitutes a long trip past the line, Union Carbide Corp. told the Texas Supreme Court March 28 (Union Carbide Corp. v. Perry Jones, Rosemary Allegria, et al., No. 16-0648, Texas Sup.).
ST. LOUIS - A Missouri appeals court affirmed a nearly $4 million asbestos verdict on March 28, tossing aside a wire company's challenges to the admission of lay witness testimony, sufficiency of causation evidence, application of a cap on wrongful death damages and assignment of rights to recovery from bankruptcy trusts under Wisconsin law (Jean Urbach, et al. v. The Okonite Co., No. ED104393, Mo. App., Eastern Dist., 2017 Mo. App. LEXIS 207).
SAN DIEGO - A federal judge in California on March 24 denied a dairy's motion for judgment on the pleadings after finding that a plaintiff corporation sufficiently alleged that the dairy discharged hazardous substances that are covered by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (Citizens Development Corporation v. County of San Diego, et al., No. 12cv0334, S.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43785).
NEW ORLEANS - A panel of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 27 affirmed a lower court's dismissal of a chemical injury lawsuit against Iraq War contractors, concluding that the plaintiffs failed to present epidemiological evidence that meets the reliability threshold for evidence (Mark McManaway, et al. v. KBR Inc., et al. and Rocky Bixby, et al. v. KBR Inc., et al., No. 15-20641, 5th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5341).
DETROIT - A federal judge in Michigan on March 28 issued an order approving a settlement between residents of the city of Flint, Mich., and the state of Michigan, its officials and the city of Flint that calls for - among other things - an allocation of $87 million to fund continued water service-line replacements to address the city's lead-contaminated water crisis (Concerned Pastors for Social Action, et al. v. Nick A. Khouri, et al., No. 16-10277, E.D. Mich.).
BOSTON - A federal judge in Massachusetts on March 24 dismissed without prejudice a lawsuit brought by two environmental groups against the U.S. Environmental Agency and others, finding that the court lacked jurisdiction over the groups' allegations that the agency was not undertaking a nondiscretionary duty to require dischargers of storm water into the Charles River to obtain permits (Conservation Law Foundation, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 16-10397-RGS, D. Mass., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43354).
AUSTIN, Texas - On remand from the Texas Supreme Court, a state appellate panel on March 24 found that a tax enacted on nonparticipating manufacturers in a statewide tobacco settlement does not violate the equal protection and due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution and reversed summary judgment granted to the small tobacco companies (Glenn Hegar, et al. v. Texas Small Tobacco Coalition and Global Tobacco Inc., No. 03-13-00753-CV, Texas App., 3rd Dist., 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 2547).
TRENTON, N.J. - The New Jersey Supreme Court on March 27 voted 6-1 in favor of vacating a ruling denying the state of New Jersey's motion to dismiss a contribution lawsuit brought by NL Industries Inc. under the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (Spill Act), finding that the state could raise the sovereign immunity defense for an incident that occurred before the act was enacted (NL Industries, Inc. v. State of New Jersey, No. A-44-15, N.J. Sup., 2017 N.J. LEXIS 325).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A group of Ecuadorian residents and their attorney who challenge a fraud ruling with regard to an $18.5 billion judgment they previously won against Chevron Corp. filed a petition for writ of certiorari March 27 in the U.S. Supreme Court contending that "the Second Circuit's unprecedented authorization of a preemptive collateral attack on a foreign country's money judgment warrants" the high court's intervention (Steven Donziger, et al. v. Chevron Corporation, No. 16A686, and Hugo Gerardo Camacho Naranjo v. Chevron Corporation, No. 16A714, U.S. Sup.).
CHICAGO - Illinois federal court is the wrong jurisdiction for John Crane Inc.'s fraud and racketeering claims against two law firms and their founders, two federal judges held separately March 23 in dismissing the company's lawsuits, but without prejudice to refile the actions in the proper courts (John Crane Inc. v. Shein Law Center Ltd., et al., No. 16-5913, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42758, John Crane Inc. v. Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, et al., No. 16-5918, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41840).
BUFFALO, N.Y. - Any delay in a retired police officer's notice of intent to file an asbestos tort action against the City of Buffalo was reasonable given the facts of the case, and no evidence suggests the municipality will suffer prejudice from the late notice, a New York appeals court held March 24 (In the Matter of James R. Diegelman, et al. v. City of Buffalo, et al., No. CA 14-01919, N.Y. App., 4th Dept., 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 2279).